A three-line paragraph in a public consultation paper on proposed rules for pre-schools has been called unfair by pre-school experts and operators.
The consultation paper states that the proposalswill not apply to those run by the Government, such as Ministry of Education (MOE) kindergartens.
Instead, "they will be held to comparable standards as the rest of the early childhood sector through direct government oversight and accountability".
Said Preschool Teachers Network Singapore founder Philip Koh: "If MOE is not subjected to the same... that is unfair."
The proposed framework will regulate over 1,500 childcare centres and kindergartens. Five MOE kindergartens will open next year, bringing the total to 15.
The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) said: "MOE kindergartens are run directly by the Government, similar to primary schools... Like these schools, MOE kindergartens... (have) strict oversight by the MOE headquarters."
But Eshkol Valley Preschool managing director Vincent Yap noted: "A good governance model is one that segregates the roles of the operator from those of the regulator. There are inherent conflicts of interest when the segregation line is blurred."
Ms Shaireen Selamat, a doctoral researcher in early childhood, said: "This creates a division within the industry, and contradicts ECDA's role at its inception (in 2013), which was to unite the two previously divided childcare and kindergarten sectors."
The agency is overseen by MOE and the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF). Previously, MOE oversaw all kindergartens, while infantcare and childcare came under MSF.